by Sophie McNeil Wolf
Fondrenite Melia Dicker recently took over as the Communications Director for the Mississippi Arts Commission, where she tells the story of the arts in Mississippi and their importance for communities and economies. From written and visual content to managing annual events like the Governor’s Arts Awards and Day at the Capitol, Dicker has a pulse on all things arts in the state.
Why is it so important to promote the arts in Mississippi?
I believe that the richness of Mississippi’s culture stems from its arts. Some of the greatest artists in history, including Elvis, Eudora Welty, and B.B. King, cultivated their talents here and went on to bring them to the rest of the world. The arts are also one of Mississippi’s strongest economic engines. We’re talking more than 60,000 jobs among those who work in creative occupations or for creative companies, from farmers to filmmakers. Promoting the arts helps people understand why they’re essential to our state’s well-being, which inspires them to support the arts.
How can regular Mississippians get involved, especially with the Arts Commission’s work?
Artists and arts organizations are among the core audiences we serve, and we provide them grant programs including Artist Fellowships, Mini Grants, Project Grants, and Operating Grants. You can learn more about all of these at arts.ms.gov.
Favorite artist or place to find art?
I love work by so many local visual artists, including Ginger Williams-Cook, Jessica Russell, Emily Mathis, and William Goodman. Rory Doyle’s and Tate Nations’ stunning photographs capture the beauty of Mississippi and the people who live here. I also enjoy the Mississippi Museum of Art’s Third Thursday pop-up shows; it’s fascinating to see how several people interpret the same theme so differently.